Visit Pensacola

Amid concerns about the coronavirus and its future in Florida, tourism officials remain optimistic about the upcoming tourist season.

There are no plans to cancel any events at Pensacola Beach, including the popular Bands on the Beach outdoor concert series, which kicks off April 7. As part of the local caution, Visit Pensacola’s Nicole Stacey says they’re in touch with all local hospitals and agencies on pretty much a daily basis.

Visit Pensacola

Visit Pensacola is saying farewell to its president and CEO of the past six years, and beginning the search for his successor.

Steve Hayes announced in October he’s accepted a similar position with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater in Pinellas County. He took over Visit Pensacola in 2013, helping it break away from the Chamber of Commerce to become a standalone tourist organization.

U.S. Navy on Flickr

Blue Angels Weekend visitors won’t have to worry about the $1 toll as entrance to Pensacola Beach will be free. Following public safety concerns because of backups on the bridge, Escambia County has worked to find quicker ways to move traffic. County Commissioner Robert Bender represents Santa Rosa Island and has been trouble shooting the problem.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desire to look at the effectiveness of the state’s tourism-marketing arm could save the embattled state tourist agency Visit Florida for at least another year. Meanwhile, a decision must be reached before “sine die” on Friday.

House Speaker José Oliva – one of Visit Florida’s leading critics -- signaled Friday he may be willing to go along with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request to keep it open, as the legislative session approaches the 11th hour.

Visit Pensacola

Many Americans with vacation time are averse to taking it, according to numerous studies. To that end, a new movement wants to change that – both nationwide and locally.

It’s a 21st Century dilemma: people earn vacation days but thanks to a heavy workload or they’re afraid to leave work, they don’t take them.

Steve Hayes, President of Visit Pensacola — the city’s tourism agency — says they and similar organizations are teaming up on Tuesday, Jan. 29, for “National Plan for Vacation Day.”

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Local tourism officials and related businesses are teaming up to inform the public about the economic impact of visitors to the local economy. 

“Tourism Works for Pensacola” is a campaign that will use such stories to show the common thread that tourism provides in giving many here their first jobs or a career path.

Governor Rick Scott has not yet taken action on the new budget and he fate of Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion agency, remains in limbo.

For every dollar Visit Florida spends, the state receives $3.20 in return, according to the Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research. In 2015, the latest available year, that translated to $109 billion in tourist spending; $11.3 billion in tax revenue, and 1.4 million tourism-related jobs in 2015. 

Visit Pensacola is hoping to build upon a successful winter tourist season as the calendar moves toward spring.

However, some flak could be coming out of Tallahassee.

Visit Pensacola President Steve Hayes says one of the key has been the agency’s expansion of digital advertising and analytics that target specific demographics, which he calls “almost Big Brother-ish.”

Dave Dunwoody

The next step in efforts to get Amtrak service back to Pensacola rolled into the city Friday morning, and the crowd greeting the “Inspection Train” appeared to be part pep rally and part revival meeting.

On a chilly but otherwise “Chamber of Commerce” day, the train made its entrance from the west, where it had originated Thursday in New Orleans. There to greet it was a crowd – some in period costumes – in front of what was the Amtrak station before service was ended 12 years ago.

Steve Hayes, the President of Visit Pensacola, and served as Master of Ceremonies

Greater Pensacola Chamber

  The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce recently celebrated 125 years of service, and is now looking ahead to the future.

The Chamber held its annual meeting recently in downtown Pensacola, outlining the previous year’s accomplishments – an 18% increase in membership to about 1,300; about 50 ribbon-cuttings for new or expanding business, and a similar number of educational and networking events.

Local tourism took center stage Thursday, as the destination marketing organization Visit Pensacola unveiled its five-year blueprint for increasing the numbers who come for a visit.

This is National Travel and Tourism week, with Pensacola joining other U.S. cities in celebrating the impact visitors have on local economies.

On Thursday, Visit Pensacola will unveil its five-year strategic plan – “Destination 2020” – which is aimed at revving up the area’s tourism industry. Visit Pensacola President Steve Hayes says they brought in some speakers, and heard from local tourism officials, elected officials, business owners and residents.

Photo via Flickr// Matt Deavenport /

If you wondered why you spent a little more time in line at attractions last year, or it took a bit longer to find an unoccupied spot at the beach, the numbers are in to explain.

Almost 4%  more people came to the Sunshine State in 2014 over the previous year, according to figures released by Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing arm. That’s inching closer to an annual goal sought by Gov. Rick Scott.

“This is a great day: 97.3 million tourists,” said the Governor. “I look forward to passing 100 million tourists.”

University of West Florida

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper provides analysis of Governor Rick Scott’s recommended education budget, the improving housing industry, and Visit Florida’s “Destination 2020” tourism plan.

In his "Keep Florida Working" budget plan for 2015-2016, Gov. Scott is proposing historic per pupil funding of $7,176, an increase of $50 over the previous record for fiscal year 2007-2008. 

Visit Pensacola recently kicked off “Destination 2020” -- a four-month strategic planning course, on the future of local tourism.

More than 150 people attended the opening session, the first of a half-dozen community-based meetings in Pensacola, Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach this month and in February.